By Philomina Attah
The Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) has warned against project duplication.
Chairman of the commission, Prof. Bolaji Owasanoye, gave the warning at a Policy Dialogue on Corruption and Cost of Governance in Nigeria on Tuesday.
Owasanoye said that thousands of projects were repeated annually in the budget, without diligent scrutiny of need, implementation or otherwise.
He added that some projects were duplicated as annual zonal intervention projects, otherwise called constituency projects of the legislature, while also featuring as projects of the executive.
“Funding is released for both insertions without any mechanism for monitoring and evaluation and reconciliation of the funding,” he said.
Owasanoye cited the recent case of a road project executed by the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG) as part of its Corporate Social Responsibility but was also awarded as an executive project.
He said the incident rightly became the subject of an inquiry by the legislature.
“ICPC’s response to this challenge is not only to track selected projects, but we annually digitise executive and constituency projects and upload same on our website for citizen verification, through our toll-free line.
“The breakdown of projects for 2021 has already been uploaded on our website and we encourage the public to become watchdogs of projects in their communities.
“We are working with the budget office to track funding of such projects as we prepare for our 2021 tracking of the constituency and executive projects, ” he said.
According to the ICPC boss, the second area of concern was payroll padding and the phenomenon of ghost workers and abuse of recruitment.
He further explained that from ICPC findings in health and medical institutions, a lot of agencies still engaged in unapproved recruitment without obtaining the consent of all relevant organs of government.
Owasanoye said it appeared that such malfeasance enjoyed the cooperation of some unscrupulous elements in the IPPIS.
“Happily, the government is looking closely at this towards taking corrective measures. ICPC is a part of that process, ” he said.
Prof. Tunde Babawale, Acting Provost, Anti-corruption Academy of Nigeria (ACAN), said Nigerians were uncomfortable with the ever-increasing cost of governance that the country had historically experienced.
He said research findings had shown that corruption had been a major cause of the ballooning cost of governance in Nigeria.
“The essence of the policy dialogue is to exchange ideas with key stakeholders, with a view to finding a common ground and consensus on the policy matter being discussed.
“The dialogue will address this critical issue and analyse it as part of efforts to assist the commission and its academy to achieve the objectives outlined in the National Anti-Corruption Strategy (NACS).
“This includes the promotion of an improved legal, policy and regulatory environment for the fight against corruption, ” he said.
He said that there was a near consensus among Nigerians that the country would make significant progress if the wasteful practices of public officials could be curbed.
On his part, Mr Ben Akabueze, Director-General, Budget Office of the Federation, in his presentation entitled: “Reducing the Cost of Governance in Nigeria ” said that Nigeria’s system of democratic governance was considered to be very expansive and expensive.
“It is important to minimise corruption and reduce the cost of governance in Nigeria on which critical steps need to be taken.
“We need to prioritise the completion of ongoing projects, to enable us to reap the benefits of such projects and save variation costs, including projects that relate to matters that are the responsibilities of the state and local governments, ” he said.